Background Story: The Army of the LORD Marches Around Jerusalem
Hebrew video of the event at Arutz 7.
Last night, Motsaei Shabbat, at the beginning of the Fast of Tisha B'Av, Saturday 28/7/12, the 18th Annual Walk Around The Walls, held in Jerusalem and spear-headed by the Women in Green organization, was a huge and impressive success. Thousands arrived at the event which began with the public reading of the Megilat Eicha, the Book of Lamentations, across the road from the American Consulate. The beautiful and meaningful reading was held by David Matar and sons Yehuda, Ben-Tzion and Amichai.
Following the reading, Israel Prize Laureate Geula Cohen gave a short speech, and with much emotion referred to the destruction that we remember on this day. She stated that sometimes the People of Israel needed to be commanded to do things - the Exodus was invoked upon us by G-d, as was the reception of the Torah, and as things stand, we will need the same in order for us to return to the Temple Mount.
Rabbi Shalom Gold, former Rav of Kehilat Zichron Yosef in Har Nof and co-founder of the Rabbis for Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael Organization, gave another speech shortly after. Rabbi Gold lamented the lack of Jewish control over the Temple Mount. "Foxes roam free there", declared Rabbi Gold and called out to take organized action for Jewish rights to open access to the Temple Mount.
MK Dr. Michael Ben Ari stated, in his speech at the event, that recent reoccurring speech patterns, seem reminiscent of the ones that led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. "They talk about negotiations. What is there to talk about? Defeat? What should we discuss? "We will not simply accept and forget the destruction of the Temple. That is the creed of the People of Israel in our time", called out Ben Ari as he told of the compelling feeling to ask forgiveness from people like Yochanan from Gush Halav and Shimon Bar Giyora who fought to their last breath for the freedom of the People of Israel and the construction of the Temple. "We are their successors", declared Ben Ari.
At the end of the speeches, the thousands of participants embarked on the walk around the walls. The event, conducted by Women in Green heads Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katsover, brought together thousands of Jews from across the country, immigrants and natives, young and old, groups, families and single people, some bearing flags, all wishing to declare their loyalty to Jerusalem, to the Temple Mount and to the Temple.
This year's Walk was accompanied by the explanations of Aryeh Klein, a historian and expert tour guide, who told the participants about the historical events that occurred in each location, gate by gate. Klein presented historical data regarding the efforts made by both Christians and Muslims to take control of Jerusalem, "but they were all temporary, while we have always been here and B"H will always be here".
"Just as the bride circles around the groom as an expression of yearning and love, so do we circle Jerusalem's gates as we express our yearning to see it rebuilt, our yearning for the days when we will all be able to go up to the Temple Mount and to the [rebuilt] Temple, and not just walk on the perimeter road that surrounds the walls", said Nadia Matar.
Near the Lions' Gate, which served as the breaching point to the Temple Mount for the paratroopers in the Six Day War, MK Elkin, head of the coalition and co-leader of the Erets Israel Lobby in the Knesset, spoke and told of the very distant past, roughly 1000 years ago, when the Jews used to uphold the tradition of circling around the walls and gates, and more recent times, when we once again carried on the tradition with the Walk Around The Walls. Elkin reminds us of the days when those who conducted the event were the leaders of the entire Jewish community, regardless of political or even religious affiliation. "There was a time when the Histadrut and the Zionist elite in the State of Israel, both secular and religious, both Left and Right wing, thought that Jerusalem was their business, that the Temple Mount was their business, that remembering the Temple was their business. Where have those days gone? We've reverted to a time where we must plead our case in the Supreme Court, so that the Israeli police will allow us to hold and carry out this thousand-year-old tradition."
MK Prof. Aryeh Eldad, co-leader of the Erets Israel Knesset Lobby, also spoke and called out to not settle for the rounds of the Walk, but to demand the real heart of the problem, as he puts it, which is the sovereignty over the Land of Israel and the Temple Mount. "Today we remember the destruction of the First Temple, the Second Temple, and the expulsion from Gush Katif and the Northern Samaria regions", said Eldad. "Jews fought and were burned alive to prevent the destruction of both Temples, yet we didn't fight to save Gush Katif. We didn't fight because the threat wasn't foreign but rather domestic, brought upon ourselves. Today we still have attempts to destroy communities. For 18 years we have been circling the walls. We must bring forth the time when we grasp the true heart of the problem - sovereignty over the Land of Israel and the Temple Mount - and not postpone judgment by cutting a deal to build hundreds of houses to replace 10 that were torn down".
Later in his speech he referred to the future of the El Aqsa mosque, located on the Temple Mount, as he sees it, and said that we can learn one thing from Beit El's Ulpana Hill deal, and that is the idea of sawing. "There is one thing we can all learn from one of the most questionable deals we have made lately, and that is what happened at the Ulpana Hill, where they decided to dismantle and relocate the houses, rather than destroy them. At least, when the time comes to reconstruct the Temple, and that time is coming, we will dismantle and relocate the "house" that is currently there. We will cut it up and they can relocate it wherever they want, because that's where the Third Temple belongs", called out Eldad over the applause of the crowd.
Among the speakers was the philosopher Yehuda Etzion, one of the liberators of Jerusalem, who spoke of the importance of the connection and yearning for the construction of the Temple and full control of the Temple Mount.
The exciting and uplifting event was sealed by Rabbi Yosef Mendelovitsch, who conducted a prayer for the release of Jonathan Pollard and read Kaddish for all the Jews who fell at that very location while fighting for Jerusalem, whether it be against the Romans or in 1967 during the liberation of Jerusalem, when they broke through the Lions' Gate on their way to liberate the city.
The organizers, Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katsover, made the connection in their speeches between the unique event and the recently increasing demand to apply Jewish sovereignty throughout the entire Land of Israel, "we will go forth and inherit Her", they called out to the thousands of participants, and stated that today there are leaders who aren't afraid to openly say these things and outline the road to fulfilling the vision.
Matar and Katsover brought their main point in a verse from this past week's Torah portion: "Look how G-d thy Lord lay the land before you, go forth and inherit it as G-d the Lord of your ancestors has commanded. Do not fear or worry".
"There are those who say we no longer need to fast on Tisha B'Av. After all, we came to Israel and established a state. Isn't that enough? No! What we also need is sovereignty. Israeli sovereignty. Go forth and inherit. We must arrive at the land and then we must inherit it". They continued and added that the Hebrew word for inherit "Resh" is also an acronym for 'Total Sovereignty'. "We must apply sovereignty over the areas that we haven't done so already, such as Judea and Samaria, and we must realize and implement our sovereignty over areas that may officially be subject to it but it is not implemented, like the Temple Mount. For that we need a fearless leadership - do not fear or worry, after all, that's exactly what the Scouts' sin was - the fear to openly declare that the Land of Israel belongs to the People of Israel given to us by the G-d of Israel. We will go forth and inherit Her, for it is our right!".
Women in Green pointed out that, up until the last few days, there was a heavy sense of dread in the air, as there was much concern whether the police would find some excuse to cancel the events of this annual tradition, yet it was held as usual and with great attendance. As may be recalled, a few months before the event, the police announced that they forbid the Walk out of fear from confrontation and conflict with the Muslims coming down from the Temple Mount after another day of the Ramadan fast. This decision was canceled two days after the Women in Green organization appealed to the Supreme Court, demanding that the police allow the Walk to be held as usual.
Katsover and Matar tell how, while holding flying Israeli flags in their hands, there were a few moments when they passed the Damascus gate next to a group of Muslims coming down from the Temple Mount, and they could feel the tension in the air. Nonetheless, that moment of tension made it clear to the participants just how important the Walk, and the messages that accompany it, truly are.
The entire event ended, as it has for the past 17 years, without any security issues or conflicts with the Arabs.
Yet another Tisha B'Av in which thousands of Jews came to express their loyalty to Jerusalem, thousands of Jews who voted with their feet that for the sake of Zion we will not be silenced, and for the sake of Jerusalem we will raise our voices.
Pictures of the march can be seen on Facebook and on our Women in Green website. http://www.womeningreen.org
Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar
Women For Israel's Tomorrow (Women in Green)
POB 7352, Jerusalem 91072, Israel